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Medical News and Perspectives
May 16, 2007

Ethanol-Fueled Vehicles Could Pose Health Risk

JAMA. 2007;297(19):2068. doi:10.1001/jama.297.19.2068

In the hunt for alternative fuels, scientists have touted ethanol as a promising candidate. But a recent study cautions that if every vehicle in the United States ran on ethanol instead of gasoline, the number of respiratory-related deaths and hospitalizations would likely increase (Jacobson MZ. Environ Sci Technol. doi:10.1021/es062085v [published online April 18, 2007]).

In the study, Mark Jacobson, PhD, of the department of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, in Palo Alto, Calif, used computer simulations of atmospheric conditions in the United States in 2020, with a special focus on Los Angeles, to compare 2 future scenarios: if all vehicles were fueled by gasoline vs if they were powered by E85, a popular blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Jacobson's model accounted for the transport of tailpipe emissions across the country, as well as chemical transformations in the atmosphere.

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